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private fostering

Are you private fostering?

Are you looking after a relative’s or friend’s child? Do you know someone who is? Ealing Council has lots of support available to help you.

What is private fostering?

If someone has a child living with them who is not their own child, this may be a private fostering arrangement. A private fostering arrangement is one that is made privately by a parent or guardian for a child to live with someone who is not a ‘close relative’ for 28 days or more.

These arrangements only apply to children under the age of 16 years, or under 18 if they are disabled.

Why is it important to let the council know?

On many occasions the council is not aware of private fostering arrangements, which means children, parents and carers can miss out on a range of services and support.

It is also a legal requirement that the council is notified so it can check that the arrangement is safe and suitable for the child.

How does private fostering work?

Private foster carers may be distant relatives or friends of the family, which includes adult partners where the parent is absent or even an adult who the child didn’t know before. It is very different to fostering formally, which is organised by the council through approved foster carers.

Private fostering arrangements are made for a variety of reasons, including for children:

  • Who have parents living or working abroad
  • Who are living with a friend’s family as a result of parental separation/divorce or problems at home
  • Who are being cared for while their parent/s are in hospital or in prison
  • Who went to the UK to study, attend language schools or for extended cultural exchange trips
  • Who are under 16 years at boarding schools who spend more than two weeks in residence at school during holiday time.

More information and support

The council has a wealth of information, including a simple video, about private fostering and the support available. It is important to remember that if the council does not know that someone is in a private fostering arrangement, then it cannot help. And, remember it is a legal requirement to let the council know.

You should tell the council’s Ealing Children’s Integrated Response Service (ECIRS) by calling 020 8825 8000. You can also call with any queries.

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